A grey car parked next to a white and black electric car charger with more parked cars and a dark grey building in the background.

What is the cost of running an electric car?

The top electric cars and new vehicle models are eco-friendly, but are they also wallet-friendly? The short answer is yes: electric cars are (generally) much cheaper to run than their internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) equivalents.

But what are the costs of running an electric car? In this guide, we break down some of the main running costs of electric cars and look at why they are so much lower than on a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle.

Purchase Price

As with all cars, the initial purchase price will vary depending on the make, model, and spec of your electric car, and the top electric cars and new models will usually cost more when they roll off the production line.

Electric car leasing is a good option, as a non-ownership agreement,, with an initial payment and fixed monthly payments, without the large upfront costs often required to purchase a vehicle. t, leaving more in your budget to cover the running costs.

Running Costs Of Electric Vehicles

With the initial purchase out of the way, what electric vehicle running costs can you expect to encounter?

Some of the most common include:

  • Electricity/charging costs
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Tax/insurance etc

Let’s look at these, in turn, to understand how EV running costs compare with those of ICEs.

Charging costs vs. petrol and diesel

Several factors affect how much it costs to charge your electric car. These include the size and capacity of your battery, as well as where and when you charge it.

Commercial charging stations are now quite common, but you can expect to pay the highest price when using a superfast chargepoint, especially if it’s located on or near a motorway.

In general, charging using a home charging post or even a standard 3-pin wall plug overnight is much cheaper but much slower.

How To Reduce EV Charging Costs

There are some best practice guidelines you can apply to reduce EV charging costs:

  • Avoid charging to 100% (keeping your battery between 20% and 80% is more efficient)
  • Make use of workplace chargepoints (if you are not charged for using them) and any other free-to-use chargers in your area
  • Switch to a dual-rate electricity tariff at home and charge overnight at a lower price per unit of electricity

Remember, it’s not just about the total cost of charging an electric vehicle. It’s also about how many miles of range you get from that charge — fuel economy rather than just fuel price.

Repairs And Maintenance

All cars need maintenance, and electric vehicles are no exception. Some parts of the powertrain, such as the battery, should only be accessed by a professional, as they carry high voltage from the vehicle’s large-capacity battery cells.

These parts are usually hidden behind bright orange panels, so don’t try to access those areas – stick to the serviceable parts like refilling your windscreen wash bottles, and so on.

How To Manage Maintenance Costs

Leasing is a good solution if you’re concerned about an unexpected repair bill. Optional service and maintenance packages can be added to your leasing agreement and also include breakdown cover and tyres (conditions apply) , giving you peace of mind that you won’t be left out of pocket.

Remember that EVs have far fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, so generally require less time and resources to maintain the vehicle.

Road Tax

Zero-emission vehicles, including electric cars, vans and motorcycles, were exempted from paying vehicle excise duty (also known as the road fund license or simply ‘road tax’), but this is due to end in 2025.

In the 2022 Autumn Statement, the government announced that electric vehicles will be moved into the next-lowest VED band from April 1st 2025, with existing vehicles paying the higher rate from their annual renewal date in 2025-26.

The move is expected to raise over £500 million in its first year, nearly £1 billion the following year, and almost £1.6 billion in 2027-28. However, electric cars will still pay the lowest available VED band – they just won’t be completely exempt anymore.

Road tax is usually included in the monthly lease payment, but any government increases in road tax will be passed on.

Electric Car Insurance

The cost of electric car insurance varies depending on the level of cover you want. Still, with less chance of mechanical faults, some competitive policy premiums are available for careful drivers.

Your electric car leasing provider may offer insurance as part of your lease. For example, Synergy Total Care includes insurance as well as other benefits.

Do Electric Cars Need An MOT?

Electric cars need to pass an MOT, but not during their first three years, so if you lease a brand-new vehicle, there’s no need to get it tested unless your lease runs for 4 years.

Once they become eligible for an annual MOT, fewer moving parts are at risk of developing a fault.

Tailpipe emissions have become a significant factor in passing or failing an MOT, but with zero emissions, electric cars should have no problems in this area.

This means that, although electric vehicles over three years old will need to go through an MOT, you’re less likely to need to pay for any repairs or re-testing.

Final Thoughts

Running costs are hard to put a specific value on because they depend so much on the vehicle’s characteristics, your driving style, where you charge, etc.

As with any vehicle, you can minimise running costs by keeping the car in good condition, driving efficiently and refueling at the best prices.

For an EV, that means avoiding ultra-rapid motorway charging stations and instead trickle-charging at home overnight – even if you can’t do this all the time.

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the council still provides free public charging points, or your employer offers free charging at work, those options can also cut your running costs compared with paying for that electricity yourself.

Finally, remember that electric car leasing includes road tax, and with an optional service and maintenance plan you can take peace of mind from a monthly fixed cost.